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Friendship in War

October 9, 2013

One of the issues of combat which is quite interesting is the friendships forged under those arduous circumstances. The continuous stress involved creates an external pressure which bonds those who go through the experience together. I can say the stress of war can make friends out of people who cannot stand each other the day they leave America. If you remember MASH, think of Charles Winchester and Hawkeye. They may not have always liked each other, but they gained a respect and appreciation for each other. They were able to set aside differences to work for the greater good.

Friendship built-in, or forged in, war is unique. The bond exceeds the friendships found outside of the stressors of combat. These are people who you can call on later in life. You may not see them for years, but with a simple phone call there is an instant rekindling of the friendship and hours of catching up. For example, I heard a friend who was with me in Iraq was getting a promotion to a new job in a new unit. I made it to his luncheon sendoff. That was the first time I had seen him in about four or five years. Who knows when I will see him again, but I knew at that moment I could celebrate his advancement with him.

How can a church, or The Church, benefit from this knowledge? When in combat, you don’t care if someone is Army, Navy, Marine, or Air Force. What you care about is they are on your side. Let’s consider this denominational issue. The different denominations should work side by side without allowing denominational pride to interfere with the work needing to be done. Working cooperatively towards a common goal is a hallmark of combatants, and should also be so with denominations.

But there is also a lesson for inside a local congregation. Let’s face it, congregational life can be quite unsettling at times. When you are deployed you are assigned who you will live with. There is no moving out or choosing who to live with. You have one choice, learn to get along. Learn how to work out your differences with each other in a healthy manner. This was done by accepting differences, one-on-one conversations, and sometimes mediated conversations. Imagine if we worked out differences in a committed manner just like soldiers living in a tent together in the Middle East. As a church, our central focus should be our unity in Christ. This unity may not come naturally as we all arrive with different backgrounds and gifts, but we should learn to work together and work through our differences. This will edify the Body of Christ.

I mentioned MASH earlier. The pinnacle demonstration of the love and friendship shared between soldiers in war was captured in Colonel Potter’s farewell. They are leaving war and yet they are saddened – saddened to leave these deep friendships behind. Let’s make our churches a place of love and cooperation. Take the time and effort to work through differences to create an atmosphere of respect and unity.

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